Students and teachers from Mattlidens Gymnasium, Finland

The main idea of the Solarlink workshop was to give the participants an example of what ordinary schools can do to educate students for peace. We, that is the students, discussed our feelings and thoughts about a one-month journey made in Namibia. In addition we showed slides and introduced the audience to the idea behind solar-ovens and their use.

The idea of having a friendship school in a developing country started when students complained that the money raised for charity simply seemed to "disappear" into big projects. Therefore our school, Mattlidens Gymnasium in Esbo, Finland, wished to be involved in a project where people would know exactly where the money was going. Soon the solarcooker, a box made of old cardboard, paper and glass, using only the sun´s rays to prepare food, emerged on the scene. As Namibia was to be the destination, the cooker was the perfect solution to introduce in order to fight deforestation.

Two teachers and four students headed for Namibia in 1995. Having learned how to build solarcookers, we taught local students how to construct ovens by doing it together with them, thus learning to know them. As we were working and getting acquainted with each other the teachers cooked food in two cookers brought from Finland. Being together also meant being exposed to another and different culture than our own, giving us a unique chance to learn to understand a new culture and seeing our own culture in a new light.

One of the most unique and educational experiences was the stay with a local family. During almost a week families in Tses showed true hospitality by letting us live with them in their homes, thus letting us experience Namibian family life. The entire community expressed unbelievable friendliness and hospitality. This arrangement helped us to get a glimpse of the local society from the inside, not only from the tourist´s point of view.

That month changed our views of developing countries, foreign cultures and the problems faced in other societies. Peaceful living means being tolerant of differences and seeing behind people´s skin colour. The main point of the trip was for us to learn these skills ourselves together with the Namibian students. This knowledge has hopefully also been spread in the entire Mattliden community.

In addition to the workshop itself, we put the solarcooker we had brought to Lillehammer out in the sun and cooked some rice and vegetables to show that the cooker really works even in Scandinavia.





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Epost: tulle.elster@peacelink.nu